Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Case of 4,000 Twitter Followers Who Don't Care

Social media, social media, social media...blah, blah, blah. There is just the existence of social media (all quite fun and good) and then there's the true effectiveness of social media. Debra Askanase, a nonprofit social media consultant in Israel, takes the Twitter and Facebook craze to task by really examining the loyalty numbers on the back end of these applications. Just because someone is your "friend" or "follower" doesn't mean you have a relationship. This one is a good cautionary tale for business too! Bunnie

The Case of the 4,000 Twitter Followers Who Don't Care
by Debra Askanase, Community Organizer 2.0

This is the Case of the 4,000 Twitter Followers Who Don’t Care - and why 4,000 followers means nothing without engagement.

I recently took on a new client that wants to leverage its existing social media assets (Facebook Page/Fans, Twitter followers) to drive more visits to the website. This company has been building a social media presence for over a year, and is unhappy with the lack of website visits resulting from social media.

I was told that the Facebook Group was active with almost 500 fans, and that the Twitter account had over 4,000 followers. I was also briefed that, though there was not a lot of online fan feedback, the Twitter account included some committed followers. The highest priority for the client was to figure out why social media was not driving more people to the website – and come up with a better strategy.

I took on this challenge, and want to share a few observations about why social media isn’t working for this client:

Case Observation #1:

The most important number isn’t the number of followers, it’s the number of engaged followers.

4,000 Twitter followers seems like a lot. But how many really care about your organization? How many are willing to act on its behalf?

I evaluated “the 4,000 followers” on Twitter and “almost 500 fans” of the Facebook Page. I used Twerpscan, Twittalyzer, Twazzup, and Tweetmeme to analyze the Twitter asset, and discovered: almost 400 of their Twitter followers were pure spammers no one cared what the client was tweeting, and…most of the retweets were from twitter profiles related to the company the company did not engage in conversation online, and rarely thanked retweeters there was absolutely no Twitter strategy

What I discovered was that, of the 4,000+ followers, only three were truly interested enough in what the organization was tweeting. Three.

Twitter utilizes the concept of social media karma: give and give and then others will give back. This company didn’t offer help, advice, support or anything else personal. Obviously, Twitter did not drive people to the website – no one cared enough about the company to go there.

Of the 400+ Facebook fans, most didn’t care enough to “like” a Wall post. The ones that did comment or “like” a post were often friends of the CEO or employees. All the posted was to its Facebook Page was company stories or related news. Of the 400+ fans, only one was an (unrelated to the company) engaged fan! Facebook drove little traffic to the website, which again is not surprising.

Case Observation #2:

Be wary when the CEO or Executive Director isn’t using social media on behalf of the organization.

This CEO was absolutely unwilling to be personally involved in using social media for the company. This is indicative of a CEO that does not understand the basic principles of social media. It’s critical that everyone in the organization have some direct contact with social media. An Executive Director that isn’t directly responsible for some piece of the social media is missing important information by not connecting with stakeholders directly. Not every CEO has to be responsible, but he/she should be intimately involved with the social media activities, and understand the basic principles of social media.

This CEO was using social media to “drive numbers to the website,” which completely misunderstands the basic fundamentals of social media. They are:

Engage with people first, create relationships, then move them to act.

Case Observation #3:

Their social media sites offer no real value to fans and followers

The company hadn’t taken the time to figure out what people were interested in reading on their social sites. Since the organization was not actually creating individual relationships with its fans, then it had to offer compelling and relevant news and data. However, it wasn’t giving followers information that mattered to the followers. Not surprisingly, no one wanted to visit the website to find out more.

Case Observation #4:

You need a strategy for each and every social media platform.

Their overall social media strategy consisted of posting news and information. This is an appropriate strategy for social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon and Digg, but not at all for social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, the company usually posted the same information on both Twitter and Facebook. Fans of both sites were not even receiving unique value or reward for following the company in two places.

It’s important to realize that no two communities are the same online. Each has its own rules, expectations, and needs. You need an engagement strategy for each one of these communities. The strategy should consider the qualities of each social media platform, the needs of followers, how to best engage, and what your organization can offer its followers in terms of both engagement and value.

It’s Elementary, My Dear Watson

Social media is a tool to help your company meet its goals. But it’s more than that: if you aren’t using these tools properly, then it doesn’t matter how many fans, followers, or linkedin connections you have. They won’t care enough to do anything for your organization or company.

This case illustrates that it’s not about the number of fans and followers. It’s about the engagement. Create a strategy that brings your organization engaged followers and real relationships.

4,000 followers means nothing without engagement. And it never will.
You can contact Debra at: debra at communityorganizer20 dot com



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